The e-mail arrived at Fort Lewis on Saturday afternoon, and the message was all too familiar. Stryker troops from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment had been involved in a violent encounter in Afghanistan that day. One soldier was dead.
He was identified Monday as Spc. Kevin J. Graham of Benton, Ky. The 27-year-old infantryman was on his first overseas deployment.
But Graham’s identity was not shared in the e-mail sent to Fort Lewis families on Saturday. The details of his death, as in all messages of this kind, were scant: The soldier’s primary and secondary next of kin had been notified. The unit would hold a memorial service, with the time and place to be determined.
“Please remember to keep the soldiers of 1-17 IN and all other deployed soldiers in your thoughts and prayers,” Capt. Franky Kim, the battalion’s rear detachment commander, wrote at the end of the message. “Thank you for your continuous support.”
Graham was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Kandahar. He enlisted in the Army in July 2007 and was assigned to Fort Lewis in December 2007.
Graham’s relatives in Benton — a town of about 4,400 people in western Kentucky — couldn’t be reached Monday. A relative told The News Tribune that Graham’s parents were returning Monday from Dover Air Force Base, Del., where Graham’s remains arrived stateside.
His death is the 16th for the Strykers of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. And 10 of those deaths have fallen on a single battalion, the 1-17.
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